Burmese Unicode sequence

Burmese vowel “e” (​ေ) is up-side-down of English “e” shape and is a dependent vowel. Some people complained why vowel e is behind the consonant in Unicode encoding. I tried to answered that it’s according to logical and linguistic approach for a Brahmi based script and it doesn’t affect on how we type the character sequences. But some really conservative and stubborn people keep saying that it’s not “Myanmar’s Way”. They think that Burmese script was invented by ancient genius Burmese last 2000 years ago. Geez!

Pallava family branches

Pallava family branches

Well, the more the resistant, the more the motivation I get to learn new things. Burmese language was originally based on Mon and Arakan scripts. Mon and Arakan scripts came from Grantha scripts which was a southern family of Brahmi script. Brahmi script was the origin of most of south and west Asian scripts.

As you can see in the image, vowel e was originally just a modifier to the consonant. All the vowels stayed on top of or below the consonants. People changed writing styles in time. Sometimes, when time passed, people started forgetting the origin of certain history. But in internet age, we can research and dig up easily when we couldn’t do it two decades ago.

Brahmi script 3rd century BC

Brahmi script 3rd century BC. The original form of vowel e was very simple, a stick on top left side of consonant.

Vowel E for Indian Languages 2nd century -7th century AD

Vowel E for Indian Languages 2nd century -7th century AD. Vowel e in all branches still maintained top left position.

Arakan Vowel "e" 2nd century - 6th century

Arakan Vowel "e" 2nd century - 6th century AD. The vowel e was clearly still on top and scripts were not very much different from original southern family Grantha

Pyu script 4th century - 6th century AD

Pyu script 4th century - 6th century AD. Vowel e was still near to it's original form.

Pallava - a Pyu equivalent script

Pallava - a Pyu equivalent script. Many of it's original shapes and forms were still maintained.

Pyu script proposal to Unicode

Pyu script proposal to Unicode by an individual. In Brahmi based script Unicode encoding models, all independent vowels stay behind consonant

Myazedi 12th Century AD

Myazedi Inscription 12th Century AD. Finally, vowel e was completely moved in front of consonant.


Read more:

  • Arakan Coins by U San Tha Aung, The Buddhist Art of Ancient Arakan by U San Tha Aung.

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